Little Barrie has captured the essence of dominating their genre, creating a new album that speaks to their musical abilities and cohesiveness as a unit. The band’s fourth studio album, Shadow, has necessary, but specific elements, like a relaxed storyteller and high, climactic instrumental breaks. This album blends into itself, helping the listener get lost in a sea of groovy, almost-psychedelic, rock music.
The first track, “Bonneville,” opens with a strong bass line, and some symbol beats, that follows the song until conclusion. Eventually, a short drum introduction brings in the vocals, with a few pops of guitar here and there. However, the bass remains prominent and carries the song. The lyrical angle of “Bonneville,” takes on a independent personality, suggesting, “forget the others that you love/not forever/not forever/just a little while”. This song explores the gamble in relationships, no matter the type, and predicts the effects with lines like, “who’s going to compromise every minute of the life they spend” and “I ain’t about to stitch you up”. Little Barrie gave this song, as the introductory song to Shadow, a lot of sass but also some hard truths about risk.
One very cool thing about the album’s next song, “Fuzzbomb”, is that it isn’t separated from the opening track by any space. The album just continues to rock, which gives no break in enjoyment. “Fuzzbomb” starts with a strong, funky guitar, which comes in and out of the song on occasion, breaking the song into parts. The song is heavy in rhythm and tone, but includes lyrical content that follows suit, giving off the impression that this story isn’t going to end happily with lines like, “what you get and what you want/doesn’t always quite add up/didn’t quite connect”.
“Sworn In” starts off a little lighter than the first two tracks, but quickly changes into this light, psychedelic song, with heavy drums and a straight guitar. There’s a bunch of guitar echo and feedback, which is replaced with a rock chorus that reminds me very strongly of 60’s radio rock, the forbidden kind. The tone is welcoming but fierce. Again, Little Barrie has given this song some sass, mocking in lines like, “Where’s your crown/You’re a part of it now/take your key to the town/though you’ll never get out/sworn in/locked down”.
I was also impressed with the intimacy of “Everything You Want”, which takes a slower approach to get its message across. The instruments are lighter, with more upbeat, instrumental breaks in the middle of the song. The vocals even seem a little more relaxed and appeal to the greed in us all with, “everything you want/will be yours tonight”. Another great relief is “Eyes Were Young”, which encompasses its own musical world. The song starts with a funky bass and some drum, which reminds me of the introduction of the album, but the vocals are a little distorted or echoed and it sounds far away and very funky. The guitar that comes in is so strong and appealing. Together, these elements helped me get lost in the story of pain and retribution. I went through Little Barrie’s musical rollarcoaster, and was taken back by that power.
The complaints I have about this album steam from some of my praises. I do like that the album is almost, exclusively continuous, but after a while the tracks start to rummage around the same sound. I kept wishing a different side of the band to show itself, giving me another musical technique or perspective to latch onto. I do get the sense that the band knows who they are, and strive to maintain that, and that confidence is nice to a listener. However, I want them to fully express that confidence, and I feel like there’s out-of-the-box ways to do that.
But, the lyrical content and overall sound of Shadow is intense, and the band certainly knew the sound they wanted to accomplish. The album is a rough and tumble, but constant journey for the listener, and Little Barrie has certainly made their mark with Shadow.